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Global Article 9 Campaign to Abolish War

Dear Friends and Supporters of Article 9,  

We are pleased to send you our quarterly eNewsletter for July - September, 2014 with some information about the latest developments in the debate over Article 9 in Japan, notably Prime Minister Abe's Cabinet Decision that fundamentally changed its interpretation to loosen restrictions on the use of force and allow the exercise of the right of collective self-defense; civil society's responses in Japan and internationally, as well as some of the Global Article 9 Campaign to Abolish War's recent activities.

In This Issue
NEWS FROM JAPAN - ABE GUTS ARTICLE 9

GLOBAL VOICES AGAINST JAPANíS CABINET DECISION

UN HUMAN RIGHT EXPERT CALLS FOR TRANSITION FROM MILITARY-FIRST TO HUMAN SECURITY BUDGETS
PEACE EDUCATION - NARPI HOLDS ITS 2014 PEACE-BUILDING TRAINING
RALLIES AGAINST COLLECTIVE SELF- DEFENSE

NEWS FROM JAPAN - ABE GUTS ARTICLE 9

Photo credit: APOn July 1st, Prime Minister Abe and his administration forced through a Cabinet decision that fundamentally changes the government’s long-standing interpretation of war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution by loosening Japan's restraints on the use of force and allowing exercise of the right of collective self-defense.

The latest in a long series of initiatives that challenge Article 9, the cabinet decision overturns the consistent interpretation by all administration of the past decades. It also represents a “political coup” for bypassing the due democratic process for constitutional amendment.

Strong movement of protest
The Cabinet decision has sparked widespread opposition from the Japanese public, with tens of thousands taking to the streets of the country’s cities to express their disapproval.

Opinion polls have consistently shown that a majority of voters in Japan are opposed to Abe’s efforts to revise Article 9. According to a Kyodo News survey conducted at the beginning of August, over 60% of respondents oppose Japan using the right of collective self-defense (against some 31% who support it) and as many as 84% of the public think the government hasn’t provided a satisfactory explanation of why the Cabinet decided to reinterpret the Constitution to authorize Japan to participate in collective self-defense operations. An earlier poll indicated that close to 67% opposed Abe's strategy to change the government's interpretation of the Constitution instead of seeking to amend it.

Regional reactions
Article 9 has been widely recognized as a regional and international peace mechanism that has contributed to maintaining peace and stability in Northeast Asia.

In the current context of regional tensions, the decision to reinterpret Article 9 has added oil to the fire of the already poised relations between Japan and its neighbors over territorial disputes and historical recognition issues. China and South Korea have reacted angrily to what they consider as yet another sign of the resurgence of Japan’s nationalism. In a joint communiqué, the two countries shared their worries about Japan' s attempt to expand the self-defense right, given the country’s continued history-revisionist attitude.

This view has been echoed by a South Korean parliamentary committee that qualified the move by the Abe administration as “provocation” and interpreted it as “explicitly revealing an ambition to become a military power," while Chinese state-run newspapers called the move “a dangerous signal” that is “making the world more worried.”

Marking the 120th anniversary of the start of the Sino-Japanese War, Chinese General Peng Guangqian deplored the fact that "Japan is striding on the path of remilitarization now." Assessing China’s military forces, he claimed that China was ”more than able to counter Japan's military provocations.” “Just a half or one-third (of its military forces) is enough to teach (Japan) a good hard lesson," he said.

His remarks epitomize how the decision is posing a serious threat to the fragile peace in Northeast Asia, threatening to speed up the arms race already taking place and lead to an actual confrontation.

Japan-US relations
Unsurprisingly, the US, which has long prodded Japan to assume a greater security role as part of their defense cooperation, “welcome[d] the Government of Japan's new policy regarding collective self-defense, which will enable the Japan Self-Defense Forces to engage in a wider range of operations and make the U.S.-Japan alliance even more effective.” Further, with the decision timed as the two countries are revising their cooperation guidelines, Washington qualified the decision as “an important step” towards “mak[ing] a greater contribution to regional and global peace and security.“

Next steps in Japan
Although symbolic, the decision does not yet have the force of law. More than a dozen laws still act as clear legal barriers to constitutional reinterpretation and will need to be amended by parliament to enact the change – a process announced to take place earlier next year.

The legislative process and its outcome will help assess the real significance of the Cabinet decision. To coordinate this process, Abe created a new ministerial post as part of his September 3 Cabinet reshuffle, and appointed Mr. Eto Akinori as Minister in Charge of Security Legislation (and Defense Minister). In his first public address, Eto hinted he may adopt a more consensual approach, declaring his intention to “provide detailed explanations to the citizens of Japan through Diet proceedings”. If he delivers on his promises, it may create room for a genuine debate.

Several civil society initiatives related to the legislative process have emerged, with the hope they can influence the outcome.

For instance, a group of researchers, journalists, NGO representatives, publishers and academics have come together to form the Study Group on Right to Collective Self-Defense, with the purpose of providing informed analysis and commentary on the many dimensions to be considered as part of the debate, including the legal aspects and international repercussions. By providing such information to parliamentarians, party officials and civil society representatives, the group seeks to reflect concerns related to the decision and shed light on a number of issues that have been kept aside.

Japanese civil society has an important window of opportunity to prevent Japan from becoming “a country that can wage war.” If it remains mobilized and receives the support from groups and individuals within the region and beyond, it can play an important role in safeguarding Japan’s peace commitments.

It is not too late to reverse course.  Abe claims the change of interpretation of Article 9 is part of his doctrine of “proactive pacifism”. Yet so far, it has done little more than exacerbate regional tensions. Together, we can turn his slogan under its head and demonstrate that real proactive pacifism lies in Article 9.

Indeed, widely recognized as a regional and international peace mechanism, Article 9 has contributed to maintaining peace and stability in Northeast Asia. Article 9, instead of being eviscerated, could be used as an important political tool towards the establishment of mechanisms for peace and stability in Northeast Asia.

Picture credit: Associated Press

GLOBAL VOICES AGAINST JAPANíS CABINET DECISION

A number of international groups and networks have come out to oppose Prime Minister Abe Shinzoís decision to reinterpret war-renouncing Article 9.

Among them are the Nobel Women’s Initiative, the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) – Southeast Asia, Abolition 2000, the Asia Pacific Greens Federation, and more.

The World Council of Churches even presented its statement in person to Japanís Chief Cabinet Secretary, Mr. Suga Yoshihide who received a WCC delegation.

Read the statements here.

Picture credit: WCC Photo by Renta Nishihara

DISARMAMENT FOR DEVELOPMENT Ė UN HUMAN RIGHT EXPERT CALLS FOR TRANSITION FROM MILITARY-FIRST TO HUMAN SECURITY BUDGETS

United Nations Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order, Alfred de ZayasIndependent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order, Prof. Alfred de Zayas, chose to devote the bulk of his annual report to the UN Human Rights Council to the issue of military spending, highlighting the many ways in which it aggravates the challenge of ensuring respect for human rights, by increasing the militarization of conflicts and diverting vital resources away from human needs.

The report “recalls that peace is a condition for a just international order necessitating good faith disarmament negotiations and a gradual transition from military-first budgets to human security budgets.”

A few days later, on the occasion of the International Day of Peace, Mr. de Zayas urged NGOs to take advantage of this opportunity to propose concrete strategies for conversion from military-first to peaceful economies and to demand greater transparency from governments in the determination of budget priorities and a significant reduction of military expenditures.

“I call upon civil society organizations around the world to take an active role in bringing about a meaningful transformation in their own countries, downsizing the military and reorienting budgets towards education, health care, the creation of employment in peaceful industries and reinforcing of the rule of law and administration of justice,” he wrote in a media statement.

Read the full report to the Human Right Council here.

Read Zayas’ media statement here.

Picture credit: dezayasalfred.wordpress.com

PEACE EDUCATION - NARPI HOLDS ITS 2014 PEACE-BUILDING TRAINING

From August 8 to 21, the Northeast Asia Regional Peacebuilding Institute (NARPI) held its fourth annual Summer Peacebuilding Training in Nanjing, China. The program brought together 52 participants from different parts of Northeast Asia, as well as Canada and the Philippines.

NARPI is an institute in which participants receive practical training in the areas of peacebuilding, conflict transformation, restorative justice, and mediation within the particular context of Northeast Asia.
Read NARPI's report here.

EVENTS - RALLIES AGAINST COLLECTIVE SELF- DEFENSE

Article 9 rallyTens of thousands of people took to the streets to protest against Prime Minister Abe Shinzo's Cabinet decision to reinterpret Japan's peace clause to allow the use of collective self-defense.

On the eve and day of the Cabinet decision (July 1st), large protests were held in front of the prime minister's office.

Such calls continued, and on September 4, 5,500 people from all around Japan came together in Tokyo once again to protest the gutting of Article 9 and demonstrate against the use of war to solve international disputes.

Read more here.

Picture credit: Peace Boat

Thank you for your interest in and support for the Global Article 9 Campaign to Abolish War.

Peace,

The Article 9 Team

Newsletter Editor:
Celine Nahory, International Coordinator
Global Article 9 Campaign to Abolish War / Peace Boat


Our mailing address is:
Global Article 9 Campaign to Abolish War, Peace Boat
B1, 3-13-1 Takadanobaba, Shinjuku
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